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Pro Tips: What Types of Seafood Should You Buy for a Healthy Diet

seafood retail store cutting fishIf you aren’t a seafood aficionado, it can be hard to feel confident ordering seafood at the fish counter. Whether you want to know what seafood you should avoid to reduce the risk of consuming mercury or which varieties have the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids or vitamin D, we can help! Our seafood experts at City Fish Market have put together this healthy seafood guide to help you make the right choice for you at the fish counter.

 Seafood High in Heart-Healthy Omega-3 Fatty Acids

One of the biggest reasons to make sure you get the recommended 1 to 2 servings of fish a week is to benefit from omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood is the best dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids that have a variety of health benefits.

The most well-known advantage of getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is improved heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce unhealthy triglycerides or blood fat levels in our bodies, which decreases the risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attack.

Other benefits of eating seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids are improved immune function, a healthy central nervous system, decreased risk of developing asthma and diabetes, and relief from pain and inflammation associated with autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and inflammatory bowel disease.

These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids:

• Salmon

• Arctic Char

• Mackerel

• Anchovies

• Sardines

• Oysters

• Mussels

• Sablefish/Black Cod

• Trout

• Tuna

• Rockfish

• Catfish

Seafood High in Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that our body needs to function well. Healthy levels of vitamin D help our body to absorb and maintain calcium, promote good muscular development and regulate cell growth. Without enough vitamin D, children may develop rickets and adults may develop osteomalacia and osteoporosis. Fish are one of the only natural dietary sources of vitamin D. These are the best fish to eat to boost your vitamin D:

• Salmon

• Mackerel

• Cod

• Trout

• Tuna

• Sardines

• Caviar

Lowest Calorie/Lean Seafood

All seafood is lean and low calorie compared to other meats. Even fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring have only approximately 200 calories per 3 ounce servings. The leanest, low calorie fish contain less than 100 calories per 3 ounce servings. If you are trying reduce your intake of fat or calories, these are the best fish to eat:

• Shrimp

• Scallops

• Oysters

• Halibut

• Cod

• Flounder

• Sole

Seafood with the Lowest Mercury Levels

Mercury is a toxic metal that was used widely in many products from medicine to cosmetics until scientists discovered that it poisons our kidneys and nervous system. Unfortunately, mercury is still a problem today because of emissions from factories and coal plants. Mercury pollution settles in rivers, lakes and oceans where it is digested or absorbed by fish that are exposed to it. The most common way that we encounter mercury is by eating mercury-contaminated fish.

Predatory fish that are higher up on the food chain usually contain the highest concentrations of mercury. The best way to avoid mercury exposure from eating seafood is to choose fish that are lower down on the food chain. These fish have the lowest levels of mercury:

• Salmon

• Shrimp

• Pollock

• Catfish

• Cod

• Skipjack or Light Tuna (no more than 2 servings a week)

Seafood High in Mercury

pittsfield ma seafood expert helpThese fish have the highest levels of mercury. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children should not eat any of the fish on this list because even a small amount of mercury exposure can impede brain development in young children. 

• Shark

• Swordfish

• King Mackerel

• Tile Fish

• Ahi Tuna

• Bigeye Tuna

• Albacore Tuna

• Orange Roughy

• Marlin

Hopefully, this guide helps you the next time you stop by your local fish market. If you have any questions about a fish that you don’t see on this list, leave it in the comments or ask one of our seafood experts in person at our location in Wethersfield Connecticut! We will be happy to answer it.